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Honduras interim president may take leave for vote

U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs Craig AP – U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemispheric Affairs Craig Kelly, at podium, speaks …

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras – Honduras' interim president said Thursday he may step down temporarily to allow voters to concentrate on the upcoming presidential elections.

Roberto Micheletti said he will consult his advisers and those who have supported his government on whether he should step aside ahead of the Nov. 29 election and until at least Dec. 2, when Congress is scheduled to vote on whether to reinstate ousted President Manuel Zelaya.

Micheletti did not say who would be in charge of the government if he takes the weeklong leave of absence.

"My purpose with this measure is for the attention of all Hondurans to concentrate on the electoral process and not on the political crisis," Micheletti said in a message broadcast on national television.

He said he would immediately return to the presidency should threats to "order and security arise."

Micheletti was named president by Congress after Zelaya was rousted from his bed by soldiers and flown to Costa Rica on June 28.

Zelaya, who has been holed up at the Brazilian Embassy since slipping back into the country on Sept. 21, called Micheletti's announcement "an easy maneuver ... to deceive fools."

Zelaya again warned that he would not return to the presidency if Congress votes to restore him after the elections, saying doing so would legitimize the coup.

"It's illegal and violates the rights of the voters because it tries to hide a coup d'etat," Zelaya said.

Both Zelaya and Micheletti signed an agreement brokered by U.S. diplomats last month. However, the two sides are now at odds over whether the pact is being fulfilled.

The accord calls for formation of a national unity government, but does not require Zelaya's restoration to office, leaving that decision up to Congress.

Zelaya declared the pact a failure two weeks ago when Micheletti announced the formation of a unity government before any vote by Congress.